The Greatest Meteor Show of All Time

The peak of this year’s Perseids meteor shower has just passed. It happens when the Earth passed through the orbital path of the Swift-Tuttle comet, and is only visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

Some reports circulated the Internet claiming this year’s Perseids  would be “The Greatest Meteor Show of All Time”. That was largely fake news – Perseids  can put on a good show but as it coincided with a full moon this year it wouldn’t be as spectacular as it can be.

This display could  close to The Greatest Meteor Show of Recorded Time

“Upwards of 100 lay prostrate on the ground…with their hands raised, imploring God to save the world and them. The scene was truly awful; for never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell towards the Earth; east, west, north and south, it was the same.”

That was describing a Leonids shower in 1833, from South Carolina (Chambers, A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy, Volume 1, 1889).

NASA Blog:

So, if not this year’s Perseid shower, what was the greatest meteor show of all time? I think many meteor researchers would give that award to the 1833 Leonids, which had rates of tens of thousands, perhaps even 100,000, meteors per hour. During a good Perseid shower under ideal conditions, you can see about one meteor per minute. Now imagine yourself being back in 1833, on the night of Nov. 12.

Now, THAT’s a meteor shower. The 1833 storm had a profound effect on those that witnessed it; it also gave birth to modern meteor science. Those of us who study meteors dream of such a display happening sometime within our lifetimes.

But it won’t be caused by this year’s Perseids.


Leave a comment


  1. It was a great astronomical event but there were lots of disbelief’s amongst the people especially in religious countries like India

  2. PDB

     /  14th August 2017

    The ‘Jacinda effect’ shows no bounds.

  3. Brown

     /  14th August 2017

    I have a decent amateur telescope but the sky seems cloudy everytime anything exciting happens.

  1. One of the Biggest astronomical events ever – Transit Address

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